DJ Williams

D.J. now manning middle

With Jim Bates leading the defense, should Broncos fans expect to see D.J. Williams in the top five in the league in tackles? If this happens, do you think D.J. would make the Pro Bowl? -- Mike, Englewood

Mike - Yes and yes. The Jim Bates defense is made for middle linebackers. When Bates ran Miami's defense from 2000-04, Zach Thomas finished among the league's top four tackle leaders in four consecutive seasons. In Bates' lone season of running Green Bay's defense in 2005, Nick Barnett had a career year in tackles. And there isn't a scout out there who would argue Thomas or Barnett can match Williams' skill package.

The primary reason why Bates' system is so middle-linebacker friendly is he plays not one, but two gargantuan players at the defensive-tackle positions. This year, 350-pound Sam Adams, 330-pound Gerard Warren and 320-pound Jimmy Kennedy will rotate among the two tackle spots. They will eat up multiple blockers while Williams will be left free to tackle his way all the way to Hawaii.


D.J. Williams Adjusts To Linebacker Move

AP) DENVER D.J. Williams said he's adjusting fine in his move from strong side linebacker to the middle for the Denver Broncos. "Yes, definitely, especially with 16 minicamp practices we've had and now we're down here and had five or six days with the pads on, you get a lot more comfortable," he said Friday. A handful of players are trying to win his old "Sam" linebacker job, and Williams said he's confident whoever emerges will be a big contributor. "You know they're all doing pretty well right now. I'm confident in whoever they put next to me that they're going to get the job done. They're all great athletes."

Man in the Middle

ENGLEWOOD — Through his trademark dark-tinted visor, D.J. Williams scanned the offense and barked out defensive adjustments like a general heading into battle.

At 6-foot-1, 242 pounds, Williams didn’t look like a player who was still trying to get the hang of things, and he certainly didn’t act like one. But if you ask the fourth-year vet how his transition from strong side linebacker to middle has gone this off-season, the learning curve has been a little steeper than one might think.

“It’s been a daily struggle, but it’s getting better,” Williams said. “Luckily I’ve guys like (John) Lynch and Sam Adams helping me as I go.” As if the move to middle linebacker, often referred to as the quarterback of the defense, wasn’t hard enough, Williams has also taken on the responsibility of filling the void in leadership left by the loss of Al Wilson.

After eight years of anchoring Denver’s defense, Wilson was released in April because of injury and salary cap issues. As a result, Williams, who has played on the outside since his freshman year at Miami (Fla.), was called upon to take over the reigns of the Bronco defense.

DJ Williams Update

HT.: 6-1 - WT.: 242
EXP.: 4 - CAREER GP: 48 (3 postseason)

Moving to middle linebacker after playing two seasons on the strong side and his rookie year on the weak side ... Not only is he expected to play more in his new position, but he will have greater responsibility for making calls in the huddle. "In the past years at 'sam' linebacker, I didn't have much responsibility that was verbal," Williams said. "I kind of gave down and distance, things like that. But now the 'mike' linebacker is kind of leading the whole huddle." ... "He's done a good job right from the start," Bates said. "He's hitting it with both barrels loaded, and we're fired up with him." ... Has never missed a game as a pro.


DJ Williams Update

The fact the Broncos didn't take an inside linebacker in the draft speaks volumes for how easily they think SLB D.J. Williams will adapt to a switch to the middle to replace Al Wilson. Previous middle linebackers in new defensive coordinator Jim Bates' system have thrived in terms of production, and Williams' skills have been underutilized to this point in Denver, according to our sources. Free-agent signee Warrick Holdman is expected to have an edge for Williams' old spot on the strong side.


Fresh leader - Williams tackling new role on defense

ENGLEWOOD — D.J. Williams has gone from the man in the corner to the man in the middle — in more ways than one.

For the past three seasons, the Denver Broncos’ linebacker has been able to maintain a quiet presence with the public. Muted and often grumpy, he’s been sequestered in the shadows of the team’s other stars.

But his role expanded the minute linebacker and former emotional leader Al Wilson was waived in April. Williams will not only move into the middle of the team’s defense, he’s been planted firmly in the spotlight.

“I still don’t like it, but it’s the role I have now,” Williams said during a session with the media this week that might have lasted longer than the total time he spent with reporters previously in his NFL career.

D.J. Williams: The New Ringleader

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- It was only his first day leading the pre-practice breakdown, and already D.J. Williams was willing to pull rank.

After a short introduction, Williams beckoned first-round pick Jarvis Moss to stand in front of his new teammates and open the morning's work. But Moss couldn't captivate their attention with a dance, nor could he work them into rhythm.

This was no time for a tepid response. Not at the first practice of the year, the opening session of the Broncos' 14 organized team activities between now and June 7.

"It's the first day and we needed more intensity than that," Williams said. "I could tell (Moss) was a little nervous.

Williams set to shine in new role of middle man

D.J. Williams may be going from third-down scrub to the league's top five in tackles.

Who says coaching doesn't make a difference in the NFL?

No Broncos player figures to benefit more from the change in defensive bosses than Williams.

Under defensive coordinator Larry Coyer, Williams was a first-round outside linebacker who spent the past two years running off the field on passing downs.

Coyer was replaced this offseason by Jim Bates, who moved Williams over to the middle linebacker position vacated by Al Wilson, who was released because of a neck injury.

DJ WIlliams Update

The coach said D.J. Williams has started a transition to middle linebacker. Shanahan said Williams, a first-round pick who is entering is fourth season, is suited to the position because of his size.

"I think it will be a natural for him to make the transition," he said.


Who Will Step Up Now That Al Wilson Is Gone?

D.J. Williams (76 tackles, 1 sack) Take money and health out of the equation and the main reason Al Wilson is no longer a Denver Bronco is to get Williams on the field more often. After an awesome rookie campaign, Williams digressed a bit the past two seasons and never seemed to fit in to Larry Coyer's defensive schemes. It became obvious right off the bat that it was going to be different for Williams under new Definsive Coordinator Jim Bates, who loves to coach aggressive, freak athletes like Williams. It appears to many that Williams will get the first crack at replacing Wilson inside, a better fit, in my opinion, than the outside. Williams was known for running himself out of position, but on the inside should be freed up to just go make plays, sideline to sideline, similar to Brian Urlacher in Chicago. Whether or not Williams can handle the mental aspect of being a middle linebacker remains to be seen, but there is little doubt Williams can physically do it all.
To say the situation at linebacker for the Broncos is thin would be a major understatement. There is plenty of time for more moves, with guys like Jonathon Vilma reportedly available (we can only dream), and of course the draft, expect the Broncos to add depth. There is some intriguing talent on the roster, though untested, and until guys like Hollowell, Louis Green and Caeron Vaughn get into real-game action the situation at linebacker will be one of concern.

Nate Webster (11 tackles) Webster was on his way as a linebacker, signing a lucrative contract with Cincinnati before the 2004 season only to see it all come crumbling down because of knee injuries. Webster missed 13 games in 2004, then all of 2005 before being signed by the Broncos prior to last season. Webster spent much of the season getting back into game shape, though he did start the season finale against San Francisco. I get the feeling the team saw enough of Webster to feel confident he could be a major contributor next season, even with the proposed move of D.J. Williams inside.

Williams expected to fill void

Five Pro Bowls. Three 100-tackle seasons. One booming voice of leadership. It's all been removed from the Broncos locker room.

Now the team will have to go about the business of replacing middle linebacker Al Wilson, who has been told by the Broncos his time with team is over.

Wilson will be formally released in the coming days when the paperwork arrives at the league offices.

"It was just one of those situations, it was time for a change basically," Wilson said. "Not that we couldn't get a deal done or anything like that, it was just a situation I think the team wants to go in another direction."

That other direction, at least initially, almost certainly will be linebacker D.J. Williams. Williams, one of the most athletically gifted players on the roster, already has started at least one season at each of the outside linebacker spots and will now move into the middle, at least to see how performs at the position as the Broncos go through their offseason minicamps.

DJ Williams Update

The Broncos could move D.J. Williams to the middle if Wilson is traded. Williams has played his entire career at outside linebacker, but he shined in his chance to play middle linebacker two seasons ago. Wilson sat out the 2005 season finale at San Diego, and Williams played middle linebacker when the Broncos used five defensive backs in a nickel alignment.

Williams played well in that game, but because Wilson and Ian Gold were the linebackers in the nickel defense last season, Williams often came off the field for a fifth defensive back in passing situations.

The Broncos also have Nate Webster, who can play all three linebacker positions, as a backup.


DJ Williams Update

Another change for the linebackers could come in the amount of snaps strongside linebacker D.J. Williams gets next season. The previous defensive coaching staff took him off the field in nickel situations, meaning Williams played less than 70 percent of the team's total defensive snaps. But Baker promised he'll get a fair shot to displace Al Wilson in the nickel role in offseason camps.